Bert Kaempfert

April in Portugal

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Bert Kaempfert's debut U.S. LP release is a smooth, sweetly (and lightly) exotic musical travelog made up mostly of Portugese source material (in contrast to his later albums, there are no Kaempfert originals here). The title track is the jewel here, a brash big band piece without a lot of southern European flavor to it, but so catchy that it can be heard several times without offense (which was sort of the point of albums like this). Similarly, "Petticoats of Portugal" could be an instrumental referring to anyplace, but it offers some engaging trumpet work that makes it stand out. And the rest constitutes some of the most interesting listening in Kaempfert's catalog. There is, understandably, more emphasis on the guitar on some tracks -- especially "Semper Que Lisboa Canta" and "Por Deus te Peco" -- than is usual on his arrangements, not that the piano and strings don't get their due on "Fora de Portas" and "Tudo Isto E Fado," respectively. There's also more focus on dance rhythms, as opposed to the slow, moody instrumentals that filled up parts of Kaempfert's subsequent records, thus making this one of the more exciting of his early albums. The familiar lush sound, including enveloping harp arpeggios, also manifests itself, and the vivid hi-fi sound and stereo separation made this a prime MOR selection in many bachelor's dens of the era.

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